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RCOG policy for sponsorship of doctors who are offered unpaid placements in the UK

The page provides information about the College policy on sponsoring doctors who are offered unpaid placements in the UK.

The RCOG’s status as a sponsor of GMC registration and a facilitator of training placements for international doctors extends to allow doctors to take up unpaid placements within the UK.


  • Doctors who are offered unpaid placements must show evidence of funding from their government or home institution (this is a requirement of the Tier 5 visa)
  • Doctors who intend to come to the UK and rely on personal funds will not be successful in obtaining a Tier 5 visa
  • Sponsorship must not be less than the minimum wage for their post

Paid work

The RCOG is open to discussion with the hospital in the UK who has offered the post to establish whether it can provide a form of salaried work in addition to the unpaid placement, for example, allowing the doctor on to the on-call rota. This would ensure regular payment and mean that the overall funds for the doctor’s visit to the UK should meet the minimum wage. If they are not able to do this, the RCOG will make a decision on a case-by-case basis as to whether it will provide sponsorship for the doctor.

Potential risks

Doctors who intend to come to the UK with funding which does meet the minimum wage (£13,124, July 2014) must be aware that it may still not be enough to support themselves and their families, particularly in more expensive areas like London. This may result in a rejection of a visa.

A doctor had their visa application rejected because their funding amounted to £30,000 per annum however, the UKVI states that there is no benchmark funding level under which it will not grant a visa (apart from the minimum wage) and so applications are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Guidance for hospitals

Hospitals have a responsibility towards international doctors who are offered unpaid posts. They should be aware of the high risk of doctors coming to the UK with low funding and think about this when offering a placement. It can cause particular difficulties for the doctor should they wish to bring their families and can affect the doctor’s chances of obtaining a visa. 

Necessary steps should also be taken to provide paid work in an extra capacity for doctors who intend to come to the UK with funding that does not meet minimum wage requirements. 

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